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Journeying Toward Transformative Teaching in the Age of Alternative Facts and Re-Ascendant Ethnic and Racial Prejudice


by Shilpi Sinha & Shaireen Rasheed - 2020

Background: We are at a historical juncture that is punctuated by the rise of white nationalism, an exacerbation of racial divisions and tensions, an uptick in hate crimes, and bullying increasingly targeting immigrant youth, all of which, in the current political and cultural climate, have often been legitimized through a recourse to “alternative facts.” However, the current historical moment in the United States is also marked by a postmodern ethos, which is often taken up by the public in a fragmentary manner, highlighted by a general sense of incredulity regarding any form of knowledge. At the same time, the fuller, ethical context of postmodernism complicates how educators may pedagogically address and respond to the tensions and conflict that filter over into the university classroom from the social strife and injustices evident in the society at large. The ethical context of postmodernism warns against changing hearts and minds with a proliferation of the “right” facts assumed to be devoid of attachments of value. It also warns us to be vigilant against the foreclosures, reductions, and exclusions that occur when one draws on metanarratives and universals to mobilize against injustice.

Purpose: We explore what it means pedagogically, for teacher educators in predominantly white institutions, to be situated at a historical juncture that calls out for some form of social advocacy on their part to combat the rise in the politicization of truth and xenophobic and racist sentiment, but are simultaneously compelled to keep in mind the ethical lessons of postmodernism.

Research Design: We utilize critical phenomenological analysis intertwined with a narrative accounting of both authors’ classroom experiences as they attempt to engage college students at a predominantly white university with issues of racism, white privilege, and marginalization. We analyze and reflect on the mixed reactions of our students to a presentation on teaching in a diverse world, given by one of the authors to the other author’s class of pre-service teachers.

Conclusions/Recommendations: For teaching that may facilitate white students’ ability to become reflective of their positionality as structured through whiteness and its attendant privileges, it is important to envision pedagogical work taking place within environments that can address not only students’ cognitive capacities but also the white body schema, which operates at a pre-reflective level. Educators may refrain from reducing white students to reified categories of whiteness by cultivating a disposition of wonder that may allow them to understand whiteness through the lens of emergent realities rather than substantive, ontological forces.




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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 122 Number 4, 2020, p. -
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 23076, Date Accessed: 10/17/2019 11:52:32 AM

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About the Author
  • Shilpi Sinha
    Adelphi University
    E-mail Author
    SHILPI SINHA is Associate Professor of the Educational Foundations of Education in Childhood Education and Program Director of Childhood Education. Her research has focused on conceptions and effectiveness of different forms of dialogue, philosophy of education, education for justice and equity and issues of race and racialization in higher education. She received her M. Phil and PhD at Columbia University in Philosophy. In 2016, she was a Visiting Scholar at the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race, Columbia University. Most recently she co-authored a special issue in the Studies in Philosophy and Education Journal, titled, “Deconstructing Privilege in the Classroom: Teaching as a Racialized Pedagogy.” She also wrote an article for that issue, titled “The Racialized Body of the Educator and the Ethic of Hospitality: The Potential for Social Justice Education Re-visited.”
  • Shaireen Rasheed
    Long Island University
    E-mail Author
    SHAIREEN RASHEED, PhD is a professor of Philosophical Foundations and Diversity/Social Justice in the College of Education at Long Island University. She has been a Fulbright visiting professor at the University of Salzburg. For the 2019-2020 year she is a visiting scholar in the Department of Philosophy at Columbia University. She was also visiting fellow at the Harvard Divinity School, New York University and the Columbia Law School. Her current research is due for publication in a monograph. Most recently she co-authored a special issue in the Studies in Philosophy and Education Journal, “Deconstructing Privilege in the Classroom: Teaching as a Racialized Pedagogy.” She writes and lectures on issues of identity, race, intersectionality, migration, Islamophobia and populism.​
 
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